In a telephonic conversation with Restaurant India, Mahima Purohit shares her idea of starting the salad bar.
Mahima Purohit has always liked healthy food a lot. After studying advertising and management she started working with The Economist in the retention team. “I was at Fort, Mumbai and there wasn’t anything healthy to eat at the lunch hour,” remembers Purohit who was struggling to get something healthy and lite on the stomach. What best the young lady could is walk to the closest Subway and that wasn’t much of a relief because I didn’t get what she was looking for. That’s where she felt that there was a gap in the market for healthy food options to be made available at fairly healthy prices. Excerpts from the interview:
How it all began?
I quit the job and spent quite sometimes studying about salad. At that time in 2012 there was nothing easily available at the salad space and there was no information available about raw foods. I went to Newyork to study salad bars and there I got how raw food can be made tasty. That’s when I came back and put up Food stalls and approached canteen which was tough as everyone wanted to associate with a brand. I had fresh salad options and healthy foods made on the counter which I would display and get tasted at office canteens and I had no idea how Indians will react to it as eating salads as a complete meal wasn’t a trend. I tried to put up stalls at top companies including Mudra Group, few banks in BKC and that’s how we got a very positive feedback from a diverse customer base and they wanted to know where the store was and at that time we didn’t had a store. That’s when we had to tweak the menu with the customer feedback and came up with a more elaborate menu. We started our first store in Versova in 2014 and then expanded to Lower Parel opening our second store which is more like a cloud kitchen.
How are you trying to break the myth that healthy can’t be tasty?
We started with 5-6 salads on the menu. The main taste comes only if your produce are absolute fresh. We started sourcing fresh ingredients from local farms and made in-house dressing and toppings to add extra taste on the salads. And, beside that we added product which complete meal options. We added, Quinoa, khus khus, beans changing the whole perception about salads and having it as a whole meal options.
From where did you get the investment to start the venture?
It was a mix of two things. I used my savings from the job plus my father helped a little. We together invested around 5 lacs to setup the first store.
How have you changed your model from a sit-down place to cloud kitchen?
We started a place wherein people would come, sit and dine-in but over the last few years there is a transition where people are ordering food at their comfort. It is more of a delivery store. Around 70-80% biz comes from online platforms because of which we started our 2nd store in Lower Parel on the cloud kitchen model.
Who are your regular customers?
A typical customer at salad days is 25-40 years of the age. When we started we thought women would be more interested in the concept but surprisingly it is an equal proportion of male and female, people who care about health and witness.
What about the price range?
We have meal and snack options available at different prices. The snack options start at Rs 110 and goes upto Rs 220. Whereas, the meal option starts with Rs 160 and goes up to Rs 250.
What is the average order value and the ticket size?
It varies from day to day. For a typical restaurant Saturday, Sunday works as a high footfall day but for us it is opposite. We get 50-60 orders during weekdays with average ticket size of Rs 250-280.
What is your plan expanding Salad Days?
In Mumbai, I have plans to expand to Powai, Colaba as these area are respected to the kind of food that we are serving. Also, we may look at expanding to Pune in next two years.